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Imo: That name, Hope

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ONE was suprised when it was announced that the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma has marked his 100th day in office. It came so suddenly that I wondered whether time was set on ‘speed’ or events conspired with our minds to make us not to pay close attention as the period passed. It was just like yesterday that the governor began via a very controversial Supreme Court ruling.

Looking back to his friction-dogged beginning in the Government House, Owerri, over three months ago, my first reaction to the rather quick passage of a century of days is: ‘there must be something beyond ordinary in the new man on saddle in our neighbouring state.’

If you are in Anambra State like me or in any of the south-east states, you are likely to have been very worried on the several occasions that Owerri was agog with street protests or in rumble over one issue or the other that followed the shocking coming of Sen. Uzodimma.

Indeed, not many have come to terms with the new man. His occasional straight-to-your-face communication approach thus far, has not made things calmer. But Igbo nation has a philosophical concept on power, authority and enthronement in the expression, ‘chi n’eme eze’ (God makes the king). The unexpressed salient point in the expression is that power and authority are given to man by the divine forces not man. My contemplation herein on Chief Uzodimma as the governor of Imo state is hinged on the essence and possibilities not really, the present web of issues around his presence on the throne.      

In Igbo world view, names mean a lot. To a great extent, Igbo people believe that a man’s name frames his world. Over the ages, the belief that what a man is called defines his life has sustained its relevance as events, when compared with the names of the people involved in them, have tended to affirm the aphorism more than they prove ndi Igbo wrong. Somehow, names often turn right or at least near right with people.

Hence, when you hear such common Igbo names as Afamefuna it would literally be translated as ‘may my name not be lost’ but when explained, the holistic import of the expression would go deeper, beyond physical loss. In the Igbo nations, names have their myth, might, aura and functional talisman. A person’s name is not just nomenclature; it portends a deluge of accompanying values. The prayers of both the proclaimer and the bearer of the name are encapsulated in that expression which society calls him because in Igbo culture, the man, family or elder who gives the child a name is making their heartfelt proclamation and avowal whilst he pronounces the tag on the child. So, among the Igbo people of southern Nigeria, the bearer of a name bears it as social identity; a destiny cloak of sort and an evidence of ije uwa (journey of life) corroborating or not corroborating a given wish or tendency which his society expects to manifest through him.

Hence, in a real Igbo homestead, children are given names not just by an expression coming out of the lips of the giver. Igbo people think, pray and observe some vital rites or mystical regimes consciously or unconsciously before names are revealed, and given as mission statement to their bearer. So there are many things to a person’s name in Igbo belief system. An Igbo person therefore bears a name as a heritage, manifest and a creed which explains why sometimes, Igbo names come across as prayers or at least communication of belief in the ever-present link between the known world of humans and the unknown worlds of divine beings.  

Working with this understanding of the myth around names, and how ndi Igbo do not toy with things like that, even if for a tag, one pauses to take deep breath and think when one beholds persons whose names embody such a collection of positive expressions as ‘Hope’ and  ‘Uzodimma.’ A lot of thoughts, even the superstitious, well in one’s mind upon encountering such nomenclature. What comes to mind is that there must be something of the ‘hand of God’ forecast on his paths when the names came or at least something peculiarly hinged on good fortune, that the deities saw in him that attracted such a rally of healthy attributes and divine benevolence.

In business and politics, the paths of Hope Uzodimma have not been chequered. They may not be rosy but there have not been a plethora of thorns which underscores the aptness of his surname ‘uzo di mma’ (good pathway).

In politics, his missions have been blessed with good yields and the way the outcomes came shows the proceeds of divine favour. After putting up to run for the senate seat of Imo West zone that initially appeared far from his grip, Chief Uzodimma became a senator. Notwithstanding the boulders he had to surmount on his path to the red chamber, Uzodimma arrived there and waltzed like a natural legislative sophist. He left with very good records.

After several trials, since 1999, he emerged the gubernatorial flag bearer of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Imo State during the March 2019 general election. Somewhat characteristic of his political missions, his way to victory on the gubernatorial turf was also marked by harsh restraints, rocks, traps and even resilient enmity.

Eventually, he triumphed through a path many never imagined was in existence when on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the Supreme Court declared him the rightful winner of the bitterly fought race to Douglas House, Owerri.

The fact that somebody else was declared winner after the general election and he had manned the Government House for eight months thereafter before he was able to take his position is interesting but more remarkable is the way he got his mandate. Like the cow without tail for whom his god chases away flies, he did his part, devoid of malice for anyone and left the rest to God. He asked the apex court just to give him the votes that Imo people cast for him not to remove anybody from seat in his favour. It was left for the judges to disseminate justice. The sages thumbed throw the details of the matter, discovered that he had been robbed of his mandate and adjudged him winner of the election.

Many factors, indeed point to the fact that his is a good path – one heading positively towards glorious destination (what Igbo people call, Uzo di mma).

Providence and Mr Uzodimma definitely have more admirable part. His first name ‘Hope’ foretells this more. By trope, etymology or lexicon, the word ‘hope’ exudes positivity, dynamism and vibrant expectancy. Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary defines the word thusly: “to want something to happen and think it is possible”. Hence, Hope is a catalyst of sort and a bastion of healthy anticipation.

Evolved into the noun, ‘hopeful’ which means “believing that something you want will happen”, the high level of optimism in the names become evident.

Indeed, events around the bearer of the name, ‘Hope Uzodimma’, the current governor of Imo State shows good spur for belief in some positive and radical change in Imo State, even if the possibility of very miraculous transformations is happening.

Given things that have so far happened in Governor Uzodimma’s life and the pointers from destiny, the destination for Imo State under the stead of the Omuma, Oru East-born governor is underscored by good tidings.

Hope comes to Imo in his personification and through an inexplicable divine wand. In fact, nobody not even the beneficiary can tell how Hope emerged in Douglas House. It is just a manifestation that only divine elements can unravel. No wonder his proclamation as governor first emerged, to the consternation of many, as a forecast from an ordained prophet of God. Much like the biblical prophecy that David, of the 12 better suiting sons of Jesse would be king of Israel, the controversial but confident and assertive who tend to always get justified Catholic priest in another state, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka of Enugu Diocese, foretold in his 2019 end-of-year prophesies that Hope will emerge in Imo State Government House. Fruition of the prophesy takes the state one step to her Eldorado. As the new governor settles and begins to unveil his mission in Douglas House, one deems it apt to expect the hand of God in his reign. Should we seek wisdom and divine guidance as he emphasised he would do from his oath-taking day, providence could lead him to sire his states to her eureka.

Over recent time, men who play tin gods and ape deities have held reigns in Owerri, their ego and bile have rubbed off heavily on the developments in the state. If God leads the cause and providence blesses Imo with fortune, this Uzodimma emergence may be the hope of Imo.

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